When something goes wrong – be grateful for the chance to improve

At the crux of major changes in the system, there can be a lot of resistance when it comes to accepting and implementing something new and unfamiliar. Often, employees may not be exactly welcoming of change and might doubt their potentials and skills as active workers at a dental practice. Here, you must quickly act to resolve any discrepancies and confusion and must reassure your employees that change is crucial for the development of the entire system without devaluing an individual’s performance.

Many people can fall too easily into panic mode or a justification trap. For this, the four-second rule of the L.A.T.T.E. system can help: breathe in once and out once for four seconds before starting. Fault management can be the building block of a successful practice helping you achieve improvements quickly and efficiently.

L.A.T.T.E. method for fault management

Although the Starbucks L.A.T.T.E. concept of Listen, Acknowledge, Take action, Thank them, and Explain was actually developed for complaint management in customer service, it can be wonderfully used in error management as well.

  • Listen: Give general attention to events that do not proceed as planned (i.e, errors, problems, deviation from the standard)
  • Acknowledge: Recognize that this event exists.
  • Take action: Act to resolve the problem or return to the standard
  • Thank them: Be grateful to them for the opportunity to develop and improve
  • Explain: Explain to each other in the team what you did to solve the problem, or how you returned to the standard

Through effective fault management, there is a continuous flow of growth and improvement in the cycle of work. This way you develop chunking and become a master problem-solver on autopilot!

What is plan-do-check-act?

PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act describes the basic way of continuous process improvement and the ideal concrete steps.

  • Plan: Before you implement a process, you have to plan it either through instructions or some other strategy
  • Do: Then, you put a solution into practice. However, it is wise to consider that this solution may not always be as feasible once implemented, or there are just too many solutions to this problem. In this case, we experiment with the solution and hold it on probation until you know that it works.
  • Check: The solution is verified and if successful, it is adopted as the standard and officially introduced (Act). On the off-chance that the solution meets failure, a new cycle begins again with planning, experimental implementation, and resubmission.
  • Act: The finalized solution is adopted as the standard.

With the PDCA cycle, fault management becomes as easy as it is efficient. Fault management begins with employees being trained to closely observe and determine the causes. For example, if you’re faced with the problem of bracket loss, you can immediately search the scene for the problem. Was the error in the preparation of the bracket, or was it in the preparation of the tooth? Or, was it an entirely different reason like bruxism? Train your employees to sharpen their eyes and problem-solve with stealth.


In order to avoid blame, you should not mention names at any point in meetings, but only describe activities and areas of responsibility. As a leader, you should:

  • Give clear work orders: The clearer the task, the more likely it is to be completed successfully. Let your employees complete the task in their own words. If any task is not clear, clarify the details of it.
  • Praise your employees: Giving appreciation where it is due is crucial to keep your employees encouraged. Praise them not as a person, but specifically for their task and the way they performed it.
  • Help them refocus: If you catch them with a mistake, help them recenter and get back in the right direction. Be clear again and assure them that you’ll continue to count on them, even if they do something wrong.

Another aspect of error management is that forms for recording errors (technical, material, etc.) be available in the appropriate folders on all computers at every location. Based on urgency, you can rearrange and address them using the PDCA system. At the monthly meeting, all solutions are then compiled, discussed, and decided together, which is then implemented. This ensures responsibility and confidence in the employees with unrelenting autonomy.

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